In "East of Eden" the Sheriff tells Kate that Adam Trask is "a forty-four tears hell out of a man". Is that an expression in English? I've never encountered it before, neither has Google it seems.

  • 2
    A "44" is a bullet.
    – Hot Licks
    May 22 at 18:05
  • 1
    So-called because it was .44 inches in diameter. Wikipedia says the modern-day version it is actually .429 inches (10.9 mm).
    – GEdgar
    May 22 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


From page 71 [https://readbooksnovel.com/east-of-eden/page-71-1008/]:

“I want peace in this county, and I mean all kinds of peace, and that means people getting to sleep at night. Now I haven’t met your husband,” he said, and she knew he noticed the slight movement of her tightening muscles. “I hear he’s a very nice man. I hear also that he’s pretty hard hit.” He looked into her eyes for a moment. “Don’t you want to know how bad you shot him?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Well, he’s going to get well—smashed his shoulder, but he’s going to get well. That Chink is taking pretty good care of him. Course I don’t think he’ll lift anything with his left arm for quite a spell. A forty-four tears hell out of a man. If the Chink hadn’t come back he’d of bled to death, and you’d be staying with me in the jail.”

So she shot her husband with a forty-four handgun.

  • 2
    Haha, thanks, for some reason I was stuck thinking "tears" as in the product of crying and that made absolutely no sense.
    – mikosz
    May 22 at 20:27

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